Cognitive Dissonance: Confessions of a Community College Dean

That said, it was hard to have serious discussions of equity and achievement gaps on a campus of a university with a twenty-two billion dollar endowment.

.. Gladwell makes the case that the same size donation would make a much larger social difference at a Rowan than at a Stanford. Having seen both, I have to agree. Wealthy institutions are not immune to the law of diminishing returns.

.. During a long lecture about how they don’t lecture, I started playing a variation on “Where’s Waldo?,” scanning the polaroids for faces of black people. As we passed one of the many glass-walled workspaces, an intense young woman came out to tell us “we’d prefer if you didn’t come in.” I thought her comment a bit on-the-nose, but there it was.

.. For the rest of the week, I kept hearing comments like “can you imagine what we could do with just one percent of that endowment?”

.. Borrowing a bit from Gladwell, if we assume a five percent return on a 22 billion dollar endowment, that’s a little over a billion dollars per year. That’s before adding the first dollar of tuition income, any new research support, or new donations. (The guide bragged about their generous financial aid, which sounded impressive until I did the math. Undergrad tuition, fees, room, and board is 68k per year. He mentioned that the typical aid recipient gets about 30k of “scholarship” from Stanford. By my math, that means the typical aid recipient is on the hook for another $38,000 per year.

.. A full-time student at Brookdale would spend about $5,000 per year on tuition and fees, and even at that level, about 40 percent of our students get Pell grants.)

.. we could go to “free community college” for every student at Brookdale for less than a twentieth of Stanford’s annual rentier income.

.. Alternately, its annual rentier income — remember, this is one university — would cover free community college for the entire state of New Jersey, with money left over.

.. “The fact is, higher education in the U.S. is no longer a way to improve one’s life, but a caste system that aids and abets the widening inequality gaps in every aspect of life.”

.. The point, really, is summed up in this sentence from the column: “A donation to a school that runs lean will make a much larger difference than a donation to a place like Stanford.”

.. In academe, where race and ethnicity define and represent diversity, Stanford can simply point to the African-American daughter of an attorney and investment banker and be lauded for its “diversity.”

Socioeconomic class has been enveloped and made largely irrelevant while race, gender, and identity have become the totality of what’s believed to be “diversity” on campus.